Changing Of The Guard


Being one of the older fuckers on here, (among a fair few others) I have seen the Manager at our beloved Arsenal FC changed a few times, and at this point where it is abundantly clear that it should and must happen again, I thought I would start a thread for people old enough to remember, to discuss what it felt like when we changed managers in the past…as unlike places like Scum, Chavs and others, we dont do it that often…

First Manager of my life was Bertie Mee, however I was only 3 when he left, I cannot really give an opinion on that one…

So The Managers I can remember properly are as follow (not counting caretakers)

  • Terry Neill (76-83, 1 FA Cup win)
  • Don Howe (83-86)
  • George Graham (86-95, 2 Leagues, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, 1 ECWC)
  • Bruce Rioch (95-96)
  • Arsene Wenger (96-Present, 3 Leagues, 6 FA Cups)

I seem to remember Terry Neill not being the most popular Manager, being an ex Scum Manager didn’t help with that…despite reaching 4 finals (winning only 1) between 77 and 80, he had lost star players in the same way Wenger has such as Stapleton to Utd (RvP anyone?) and Brady to Italy (Cesc to Spain) and had failed to replace adequately…our league form was poor and it was a period in our history (72-86) that only saw 1 FA Cup win (79) and was mostly mediocre to poor. As such I seem to remember his departure not being lamented too much, in fact mostly the opposite. It was a popular and happy choice to part company with Neill, who had outlived his welcome well and truly by 1983

Howe was seen as a natural successor, being popular with club and fans alike and having coached at various levels for Arsenal, and also being responsible for an amazing youth set up that saw players such as Thomas, Rocastle and Adams emerge. However there was always the feel that he was too much a club man, While loved, he was very old fashioned and failed to push the team on…his departure was sad, but inevitable.

George Graham was a popular choice (albeit, 2nd choice as the Board wanted Ferguson) as an ex Arsenal player of the 71 Double team. Changed the team by instilling discipline that was sorely lacking under Howe and Neill, and introducing the players Howe had nurtured so well and making them into the stars of that time. Winning our first trophy in 8 years in 87 by beating the Big Boys of Liverpool was a great start…following it up 2 years later with that night at Anfield was obviously the stuff of legends…further cementing his legacy with a 2nd Title in 91 (despite a 2 point deduction…). However, a disastrous European Cup campaign where we were systematically taken apart by Benfica saw a change in team direction from the free flowing escapades of Rocastle and Merson, to the more turgid defensive displays of Hillier and Jensen… However winning only our 2nd Euro trophy in 94 in Wonderful Copenhagen truly made him our best manager since the 30’s…

GG’s departure was a very sudden and mixed bag of emotions one…being sacked for taking bungs when buying players such as Siggi Johnson (a mediocre journeyman more akin to mid table teams) and other obviously below par players…here we were as Fans, with the best manager any of us had seen in living memory, who had given us success beyond any of our dreams when he started…but who was also directly accountable (some may say to his own financial gain) for dismantling a successful team and replacing it with below standard players…who was now managing a team in clear decline (especially in the league) and had been caught with his hands in the till as well…

For me it was a massive mixed bag of emotions…loved GG at the time, but also felt massively betrayed that he was signing shit players for his own gain…mixed with the sight of his declining team and the feeling that he simply had to be sacked for his crimes, it was another sad inevitable departure…

Then we got Rioch…Underwhelming Graham-Lite figure with the charisma of a soggy tea bag. Graham had managed Millwall at a lower level pre Arsenal with relative success, and the board obviously thought Rioch could repeat that trick following his relative success at Bolton…however following GG was too big an ask, and despite signing Bergkamp, he fell out with pretty much everyone at the club, especially the players, and left after 1 uneventful season after scraping into a UEFA spot on the last day of the season…although never popular, the manner of his departure was still sudden and a bit of a shock… I remember being somewhere listening to some scum fans laughing about how we have sacked our manager right before that start of a season, as how we were fucked etc etc…this simply wasn’t ‘The Arsenal Way’ to dismiss a manager so suddenly…

Now we are on to Wenger, and the end of his reign must be surely coming…what sort of emotions will that bring?

I am, an unashamed Wenger fan, and I have said I consider him our greatest manager ever, certainly our most successful…However, like Neill before him, his welcome has been outlived…and like Graham, he has failed to live up to his early successes…and has made too many glaring errors in Europe…

Despite being a Wenger fan…I cannot (and really cannot understand those that still do) defend him any longer…and the feelings I would have at his departure (assuming it is going to come at the end of the season as I suspect it will) will again be one of sadness, but mostly one of relief and knowledge that its utterly inevitable and the right choice for the club.


Gonna be strange when Wenger leaves for me as he is “Arsenal”

I’m looking forward to it as it’s time for change and because it’s new and exciting. :slight_smile:


Image if we end up with Howe, lol!


The managers you mentioned all left because the team were doing poorly.

Although Graham had some success in the domestic and European Cups in the seasons before he was sacked, his style of football wasn’t going down well with a lot of supporters and that, along with us below the top four places and the bung he received, made it fairly easy for the board to get rid of him.

Most supporters I knew, as well as the feeling on the North Bank, was that we needed a change and our boring style of football wasn’t even winning us trophies, so most wanted a change.

As for Rioch, he wasn’t given much time and he wasn’t a strong enough personality for a big club.

Neil was a former Arsenal player, and Howe a coach here, and although Neil got us into a few Cup Finals and did buy some good players, our League position wasn’t much better than mid table.
Howe was a great defensive coach, and even coached the England team but his style of football was not the most stylish.

Most supporters weren’t that bothered when they left.

I don’t remember much about Bertie Mee, except he was old, and had won the double, but then apart from an FA Cup final the following year, didn’t do much else, and was seen as old fashioned, so it wasn’t a surprise when he left.

Wenger is completely different.
He transformed the club as soon as he got here, and and got success almost straight away, winning the double and playing some of the best football in Europe.
He was also respected as one of the best managers, and is quite rightly seen as our best manager and one of the best in the PL and Europe.

It will be strange to see a different manager, certainly for younger supporters who haven’t known anyone else, but I think even he knows that he, and we, need a change.


When Liam Brady visited my mate last year at The Royal Marsden. After the visit my other mate who was there asked Liam why he left…Terry Neil was his answer…

Don Howe helped out big time with both Terry Neil and George Graham…Howes leaving was handled disgracefully by the club. And thats why those of a certain age detested Peter Hill Wood… Good demos at the time aswell…

Some of us had to put up with Steve Burtenshaw and Bobby Campbell(think Alan Ball had it in for him)


Ha ha well done… Everytime i stopped something else came to mind…


Stewart Houston almost had a piece of history. 2 games with Sampdoria was memorable.


Coneman, wasnt he in charge for the final aswell?


Yeah he was. That still gets me now that one. Fucking Nayim.


I managed to get tickets off a groundsman…He started selling cheap but by the time i got there they were about 80fr…Wrighty tried to claim the goal, as hed scored in every round… At half time they played we are fucking sailing for us , for them they played viva espania, Think we knew then it wasnt going to be our day…I fucking hate Paris… Slighty off topic but “phwaay!” Jack Douglas!!


The GG days is when I got into Arsenal. 1990, I was around 7yo. Before I started following Arsenal, the only teams I knew where Barcelona and Argentina…probably because of the world cup (Maradona), Barcelona I have no idea why I knew that football team back then lol. The first Arsenal shirt my Dad bought me was from Chapel Market, showed all my mates at school only for them to tell me it was a fake, not even close to the real thing lol. Ah memories :blush:. I feel old now, thanks :persevere:.